The engineering field has a lot of men and a shortage of women, but a local program is out to prove that girls can dive into it, too.
STEAM Education is a national initiative teaching youth the uses of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics as access points for critical thinking. When it comes to engineering, a local leader sees room for growth.
“We know nationwide and internationally that there is a gender gap within the computer science world. Females aren’t pursuing careers in computer science professions as much as males do and we actually see that trickle down all the way to youth,” Executive Director of Full STEAM Ahead Allison Auch said.
She said she noticed this trend back in 2017 when she first got involved with STEAM, but now said here in Minot, she’s ready to make a change.
“This program has been on my radar ever since I started Full STEAM Ahead and so I’ve been trying different avenues to make this happen for the last couple of years in our community. It’s a free program to the children to participate, it’s just like STEAM and all the curriculum is provided,” Auch said.
She’s referring to “Girls Who Code”, a national program whose sole purpose is to get young girls, ages third to fifth grade, started in the engineering world sooner rather than later.
“With our collaboration with Women United, we’re doing the fundraiser this February which will allow us to bring some funds in to help this to happen, to put some money behind it so that we can train some facilitators locally,” she said.
“We feel it’s really important for children to have a sense of community and comradery and also it’s going to support those girls and creating new norms for the future,” Vice President of Women United Whitney Mayer said.
Women United of Minot choose one program to help fundraise for one week in February, every year, generating nearly $10,000 during that week and Auch said that would be more than enough to get them started.
“Our goal is to have 10 Girls Who Code programs running in the fall of 2020 as well as the spring of 2021 and then we’re going to go from there,” Auch said. “There will be up to 15 girls. They’re going to meet weekly for 10 to 15 weeks of coding curriculums. So they’ll meet weekly and tackle different programming and coding obstacles,” she said.